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Amazon API Gateway Powers Serverless Collaboration

About Tyler Technologies

Tyler Technologies (NYSE: TYL) provides integrated software and technology services to the public sector. Tyler’s end-to-end solutions empower local, state, and federal government entities to operate more efficiently and connect more transparently with their constituents and with each other. By connecting data and processes across disparate systems, Tyler’s solutions are transforming how clients gain actionable insights that solve problems in their communities. Tyler has more than 37,000 successful installations across more than 12,000 locations, with clients in all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, and other international locations.

The Challenge

Tyler wanted to expand the functionality of its Report Writing tools for the law enforcement community by supporting multi-user input and collaboration from anywhere in the field. Officer reports are a critical part of the documentation trail and form the basis for all subsequent investigations.

Like anywhere else, the use of mobile devices like phones and tablets has increased dramatically in the law enforcement community. Given the volume of devices in use in the field, data conflicts became inevitable. If more than one officer worked on a report at the same time, information would be overwritten—wasting time, productivity, and causing frustration. Tyler realized that allowing officers to work concurrently in a report would save time because they would be able to add information to an existing report, replicate the data, or move on to another task. Entering data in real-time while in the field instead of waiting to access a workstation would be a productivity boost.

Why Amazon Web Services

Tyler laid the groundwork for evolving its applications by entering into a Strategic Collaborative Agreement (SCA) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help them accelerate innovation and develop strategic initiatives for the public sector. AWS introduced Tyler to 1Strategy, a TEKsystems Global Services company and AWS Premier Consulting Partner with deep experience in the public sector. Adding collaboration functionality to the Report Writing product was one of 1Strategy’s first projects with Tyler.


The Benefits

The Report Writing product is a serverless application running in the AWS Cloud  and based on Angular, a component-based web application framework. To enable collaboration, the product needed to facilitate WebSocket traffic between the client and the cloud. This requirement led 1Strategy to develop a back-end module using Amazon API Gateway.

API Gateway supports serverless workloads, RESTful APIs and WebSocket APIs for real-time two-way communication. 1Strategy used API Gateway and other AWS services to develop a collaboration module that allows multiple users to work on a report, identifies users working in the same report field, and shares report changes with all active users. When an officer is working in a report field, the report displays that person’s initials, reducing the potential for duplicate entries and conflicts.

The workflow begins when a WebSocket connection opens between the client and API Gateway. As shown in Figure 1 – Back-end Workflow, information from a report is stored in an Amazon DynamoDB table named “connections.” DynamoDB Streams are enabled on other tables, so when an edited report field is saved to the table, it triggers a new AWS Lambda function. This function identifies active users from the connection table with report field updates, sends the information back to API Gateway, and broadcasts the update to all users. Functionality behind API Gateway is serverless and only runs code when needed.

Figure 1 – Back-end Workflow

1Strategy delivered on objectives, met time limits for the project, and were steady partners for Tyler. They took the time to become well-acquainted with Tyler’s development organization, naming conventions, and existing design patterns. As a result, the pattern that 1Strategy developed for the collaboration module—using the Angular framework—worked seamlessly with the Report Writing product’s existing modules. This capability added velocity to the Report Writing team’s development and deployment lifecycles. Additionally, the design pattern and best practices can be shared with other teams at Tyler.

“1Strategy’s expertise in application development, cloud architecture and operations helped Tyler push several key initiatives forward for the Report Writing product and will accelerate the product launch date. We used to have relationships with other partners – now our only relationship is with 1Strategy.”

Scott Martin, Vice President of Software Strategy & Development

About 1Strategy

As an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, 1Strategy focuses exclusively on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help businesses architect, migrate, and optimize their workloads on AWS, creating scalable, cost-effective, secure, and reliable solutions. 1Strategy also helps customers get real value from their data using comprehensive machine learning models and artificial intelligence. 1Strategy holds the AWS DevOps, Migration, Data and Analytics, Machine Learning Operations, and Security Competencies, and is a partner of the AWS Well-Architected and the AWS Public Sector Programs. With experts having deployed AWS solutions since 2007, 1Strategy is a leader in custom training—providing customers with the knowledge, tools, and best practices to manage those solutions over time. 1Strategy is a TEKsystems Global Services company with teams in Seattle and Salt Lake City, supporting customers throughout the US and across every vertical.

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